A line of T-Shirts available on-line have sparked a new interest for Park Extension and its storied history
Where we come from defines us; where we’re born and bred … it stays within the confines of our souls way after we leave it, and often, we move way passed those areas that saw us grow from the children we were into the adults we became, but its nostalgia that can always bring us back, bringing along with it the flashes of our past—both the good times and the bad.
Whether it be because of harsh times in today’s world or a private disaster that has rocked our foundation, thinking back to where we’re from certainly counts as the best medicine in times of peril, very much like a warm cup of tea on a cold, stormy day. And as a society and a community, we sure have seen quite a few storms over the years, most recently, this pandemic.
And so it stands for so many in Park Extension, and it seems like a wave of T-shirts made available suddenly has been the start of all this looking back and pride of an area that means so much to us all.
Park Extension pride on social media
Social media these days has its “haters” as well as its admirers. Perhaps it has a lot more of the latter among the younger crowd, but the former, older crowd has made pretty good use of it as well. And no, they’re not posting images of themselves making the now-famous duck face, snapping shots of their latest high-end meal, or even raising glasses at some night club in Ibiza, but as far as we’re concerned here in Park Ex, they’re calling everyone back home to supper in a way, sharing photos of the past, and a pride for the area in a way that’s not only refreshing, but quite amazing to see.
The deal about the T-Shirts
It is perhaps the owner and operator of A Brand Apart, the company printing the T-Shirts, that said it best when I spoke to her, she speaking of her mother, Rosemarie: “I get such a visual when she talks about Park Extension. It’s so sweet and storybook.”
I definitely understood what she meant, as simply walking the streets of Park Ex, you feel like you’re in a film from a different era—maybe a golden era when things seemed better than they are out there, in the rest of the world.
The patriotism to Park Extension, if you can have patriotism for a borough and not just a country, shines through on social media, and it shines through in the man responsible for bringing these T-Shirts to life, a Park Extension former resident who although he doesn’t dwell there anymore, has got a lot of love and devotion to the area, as I felt from him when we met for our interview.
More than just T-Shirts
And yeah, in the end, I guess this whole thing is about more than just the T-Shirts, which pretty much sum up all of what Ron Bridgman is about … community, family and getting people to remember, encouraging them to look back. This is what he does with his time, every day on social media, with his Facebook group and his own personal page. He encourages others in the group to remember and go back, sharing pictures, stories and events, and all for the sake of nostalgia and yes, pride of where you’re from—specifically Park Extension in this case.
The T-Shirt thing is a fun way to connect people and have them purchase cute relics that’ll mean a lot to them in the years to come, so many of its members moved away, but it’s their hearts that are still quite nestled in the community in which they were born and raised, as the T-Shirt states, and perhaps it’s that, that is most important.
Ron, who owned a business in Park Extension at two locations and subsequently worked at Air Canada as a mechanic is now retired, but he certainly keeps busy with this work and is also planning a reference book about Park Extension, the location, as it once was and how much its changed, and perhaps even including stories of its community of the past, both still living there and moved away.
He spent such integral parts of his life in the area and he cherishes not only his own memories, but the memories that others have from the community and encourages the sharing of those memories and not just in his planned book and project, but on his groups on Social Media as well—and to one and all interested in Park Extension.
But whether there or not, one thing remains constant … the respect we have for the borough that gave us all so much, and the community that cares about it.